Fidelia Bridges was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1834. An American Pre-Raphaelite, she was a specialist in watercolor landscapes and detailed studies of birds and wildflowers, and was among the few 19th century women to enjoy a successful career in painting. Her father, a sea captain in the China trade, died in 1849, and her mother died just three months later. Bridges took a position as a governess for the family of ship owner William Augustus Brown in Brooklyn, New York in 1854. She lived in Philadelphia from 1860 to 1863 and enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where Mary Cassatt, Emily Sartain, Robert Wylie, Thomas Eakins, Harry Moore, Earl Shinn and Howard Roberts were among her fellow students. She studied there with William Trost Richards, who encouraged and promoted her work. Bridges became a close friend of Richards’ family and was invited to spend the summer with them in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for outdoor landscape study. Bridges returned to Brooklyn in 1863. In 1867 she traveled to Rome where she shared a studio with sculptor Anne Whitney. Upon her return in 1868 she established a studio in New York City. She spent summers in Stratford, Connecticut beginning in 1871. Bridges painted in the Pre-Raphaelite manner inspired by John Ruskin, occasionally in oil, but mostly in watercolor and gouache. It has been said of Fidelia Bridges that “her art sings little pastoral lyrics.” Like so many flower painters of the day, Bridges was influenced by the floral paintings of John La Farge; and, like La Farge himself, she was influenced by Japanese scroll paintings. She was also an illustrator, working for chromolithographer Louis Prang from 1881 to 1899 designing greeting cards and illustrating calendars and books, including “Familiar Birds and What Poets Sing of Them”, published in 1886. In 1874, Bridges was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design and in 1875 became a member of the American Watercolor Society. She exhibited extensively, including: the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the National Academy of Design; the Brooklyn Art Association; the Boston Art Club; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Royal Academy, London; the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, 1901; and the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. In 1890 Bridges moved to Canaan, Connecticut, where she lived for the remainder of her life. After her death, the people of Canaan established a bird sanctuary in her honor. The artist’s work is held in major public and private collections, including: the Amon Carter Museum; the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University; the Columbus Museum, Georgia; the Denver Art Museum; the Louise and Allan Sellars Collection of Art by American Women; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute; the National Museum of American Art; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the New Britain Museum of American Art; the Peabody Essex Museum; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; the University of Wyoming Art Museum; and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.